Defining a monophyletic Cardinalini: A molecular perspective

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Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution







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Within the New World nine-primaried oscine assemblage, feeding morphology and behavior have long been used as a guideline for assigning membership to subgroups. For example, birds with stout, conical bills capable of crushing heavy seeds have generally been placed within the tribe Cardinalini (cardinal-grosbeaks). Many workers have tried to characterize this group more definitively, using a variety of morphological characters; however, the characters used often conflicted with one another. Previous molecular studies addressing the monophyly of Cardinalini have had only limited sampling within the group. In this study, we analyze mtDNA sequence data from all genera and 34 of the 42 Cardinalini species (sensu [Sibley, C.G., Monroe, B.L., 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of the Birds of the World, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT]) to address the monophyly of the group and to reconstruct the most complete phylogeny of this tribe published to date. We found strong support for a redefined Cardinalini that now includes some members previously placed within Thraupini (tanagers; the genera Piranga, Habia, Chlorothraupis, and Amaurospiza) and some members previously placed within the Parulini (wood-warblers; the genus Granatellus). In addition, some genera traditionally considered members of the Cardinalini are shown to have affinities with other groups (the genera Porphyrospiza, Parkerthraustes, and Saltator). Our redefined Cardinalini contains 48 species, six more than are listed in Sibley and Monroe’s (1990) taxonomy of the group. Within the nine-primaried oscine assemblage, the Cardinalini are more closely related to the Thraupini (tanagers) than they are to the Emberizini (sparrows), Parulini (wood-warblers), or Icterini (blackbirds), consistently forming a monophyletic group with Thraupini across all analyses. The reconfigured Cardinalini is comprised of five well-supported, major clades: (1) a ‘‘masked’’ clade (Piranga, Cardinalis, Caryothraustes, Periporphyrus, and Rhodothraupis), (2) a ‘‘blue’’ clade (Amaurospiza, Cyanocompsa, Cyanoloxia, Passerina, and Spiza), (3) a clade containing the genera Habia and Chlorothraupis, (4) a clade containing all species of Granatellus, and (5) a clade containing only species of Pheucticus. Diversification of these five lineages from one another occurred relatively rapidly during the mid-Pliocene, around 5 or 8 million years ago. Each of these major clades includes both North and South American species; thus, a complex biogeographic history is inferred for the group.


Animals--classification; Birds; Cardinalini; Molecular genetics; Phylogeny


Molecular Genetics | Ornithology | Population Biology




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DOI: http://ezproxy.library.unlv.edu/login?url=http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2007.07.006

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